Fragments about “About The New Photo”
On the pretext of the works of János Vető (b.1953)
I know, says János Vető, why I didn’t become, let’s say, a painter. Because,
compared to a space ship, a painting is a prehistoric thing.
The camera is contemporary to the present level of technological development, but
at the same time, it is more progressive than the more modern medium of motion pictures
or television, because the use of them depends on a superstructure generally known to be
sluggish. Motion pictures and the apparatus to project them are incomprehensible. The
papua native can play wonderfully with a model airplane. The time of motion pictures has
The photograph is a climatic environment. The photo is the century’s global view.
The photo is real.
A whole generation suddenly happened upon photography, as one of the five most
preferable representational activities. The one who stands out in this sociological soup,
yet doesn’t alienate himself from it in the process, is a model of integrity.
I was always careful, says János Vető, to remain an amateur. To a professional
My models, says János Vető, while I worked with models, were completely
professional amateurs. Amateurs, because they were my friends. Professionals, because
they knew how to look into my camera.
The successful picture is a successful face, a successful motion. Photos don’t
document us, they realize our appearances.
The photo impels a man to be a woman, a young man to be old, a son to be his own
mother, the stranger to be another stranger, whose only connections are resemblance.
It incites the crossing of the borders and the limits of personality.
I strive, says János Vető, to do something other than what the rest of the field is
doing. Something else, somehow differently. It’s not just the product that is new, the
intellectual market is, too.
The photo is the cult of the dead for the twentieth century. It intermingles,
unobstructed, with actual reality; it is homogeneous with it; it so interweaves and re-weaves
everyday practical experience, and so stimulates our viewpoint, that it becomes
indeterminable which records the past and which irritates the future.
To discover something, says János Vető, is a good thing. To receive it complete is
even better, because from there you can see the next step. I was born after the end of the
world; this, of course, makes it difficult for me to deal with the things of people who still
trouble themselves with manufacturing or averting the apocalypse.
The photo is another world. That other world, is the world we live in, yet we haven’t
realized it. The photograph has become comprehensible to us.?Let’s plug in, says János Vető, that microphone into the cassette-player. Then, the
most we’ll have to do is talk. I sympathize with the twentieth century.
Those who imagine that the medium can change their image without them changing
themselves are wrong; they don’t recognize that they are serving that which they wish to
rule, this would be the anachronistic collaboration of reaction.
After a while, says János Vető, I became topical to myself, as a subject. This
doesn’t result in self-analysis, but in analysis of the combination of personality and the
camera. The photographer person is another kind of being, like the watcher in a mirror.
Of course, I spent quite a lot of time looking in a mirror. With my camera.
Perception of the new medium points in the direction of freedom. Perception of the
new medium is a changed perception; a kind that perceives it’s own changes. The
perception of changes is a minimum requirement for the evolution of a program of change.
Changed perception comes to an object, like upon raw material; realization of the
“exterior” theme flows into the “interior”, just as acquisition in the “interior” is a theme of the
For the sake of the picture, says János Vető, I must dip my hand in reality. I hate
the “lost moments”. The camera doesn’t spy. One must employ the object for the camera.
Photography: action. To be “perceived through instruments” or to “perceive with
instruments” creates a new situation. Change in perception suggests a change in the form
of existence; those who recognize the possibilities in these changes create connections,
not with reality, but with history.
First and foremost, says János Vető, I consider myself a photographer, because
this is where we must substitute the greatest shortcomings. But I don’t see sense in
differentiating the problems of fine art from those of the photo.
The creative photo is the fine art of the seventies. Not one of the branches of fine
art, but the fine art. The photograph is the front. This is where, for a good period already,
the deciding battle of the changing viewpoint is occurring, because technology is
democratic and international.
The revolution of the industrial point of view has already happened. We just haven’t
taken account of the consequences. Indeed, in order to see it clearly, we haven’t even
The “New Photo” speaks from the instrument-saturated world, about just that. From
its vantage, the “New Photo” can denounce its transitive alliance with photography as well
as art; its accomplishments speak in the name of that entire civilization, which made this
medium one of the foundational forms of communication.
From: Mozgó Világ 1977/1. 68-70. p.
Hungarian House of Photography in Mai Manó House
H-1065 Budapest-Terézváros, Nagymező utca 20.